Last December, I wrote about the importance of shopping locally, a favorite topic. To make the point, I conjured up the dystopian image of an Elmwood Village without its small stores, one I hoped would spur people into action, to avoid such a reality. Fast forward five months and here we are with the lights out in shops brimming with spring items for sale. When the county re-opens in the coming weeks, let’s show the store owners that we missed them and appreciate what they add to the streetscape, our shopping experience and purchasing options.
In this time of sheltering at home, we have created new habits, like wearing masks and gloves when we go out, grocery shopping only once a week and cleaning anything that comes into the house. What will it look like when we go back out again?
I visited the Buffalo Cooperative Federal Credit Union the other day to test the waters. On March 1st, they moved from their location on Elmwood Avenue opposite the Lexington Coop to a building they purchased and renovated at 351 Grant Street opposite Guercio’s. When they opened for business on March 3rd, they soon discovered the advantages of their new location.
For example, there is a glass lobby that is currently a waiting area for one customer at a time, so when a customer in the credit union leaves, the next one is free to enter. Customers are asked to wear masks when they enter the business. Inside, there are protected teller desks where transactions can be slipped back and forth under the window. You can still sense a smile behind the mask of the teller while interacting with customers. Both the lobby and protected desks are new to this location and added to the sense of safety that I felt in the space.
The newly renovated business has a window up front with several plants and lots of light. The staff explained that they are cleaning several times a day to keep employees and customers safe. Although there are new concerns and measures taken; there is still the same friendly and cooperative atmosphere in the credit union. They have adjusted their business hours to Monday to Friday from noon until 4:00 pm. To ensure service for their current customers, the credit union is not opening any new accounts during the shut-down.
There is a caveat to that, when Good Neighbors credit union moved into their new space on Grant Street, they found themselves ill-prepared for new health safety measures. The Buffalo Cooperative Federal Credit Union stepped up and began sharing one of their teller desks to the Good Neighbors Credit Union three days a week.
In a competitive market, that might not make sense, but in a cooperative one, it is a win-win!
In a competitive market, that might not make sense, but in a cooperative one, it is a win-win! My suggestion is when we can re-enter our social lives, we show our loyalty to local business owners. In that same spirit of cooperation, when they win, so do we. We will wear masks, wash our hands a lot, and follow any other safety precautions recommended while we help Buffalo continue to earn the moniker, city of good neighbors.
Whether times are good or bad, that’s what good neighbors do; they support each other.